Noelle Pikus-Pace had concussion-like symptoms entering skeleton event

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After finally claiming an Olympic medal in the last race of her career today at Sanki Sliding Center, U.S. skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace revealed that she had been suffering from concussion-like symptoms in the days leading up to competition. (She later said she did not have a concussion, as an MRI would later reveal.)

Those symptoms led to doctors having to limit her training runs ahead of the event.

“I felt fine and safe sliding but my vision has been going in and out of being able to focus, which slows my reaction time,” she said according to the Associated Press.

“It has been an extremely difficult week but my family, coaches, and prayers of many allowed me to come out and compete the best I can given the situation.”

VIDEO: Pikus-Pace “couldn’t get to her family fast enough”

Despite those issues, Pikus-Pace managed to keep hold of the silver medal with a four-run aggregate time of 3:53.86, .97 of a second behind gold medal winner Lizzy Yarnold of Great Britain.

It’s a remarkable ending to a roller-coaster career full of highs and lows.

After claiming the 2004-05 World Cup, she would become a medal favorite for the 2006 Torino Olympics until she was hit by a bobsled in an October 2005 incident at Calgary Olympic Park.

VIDEO: Pikus-Pace thanks her mom for her Olympic journey

Despite sustaining a compound fracture of her right leg, Pikus-Pace returned to competition just weeks after the accident. But she ultimately did not make the U.S. Olympic Team for Torino.

She came back strong by winning the 2007 world championship and made the Olympic team for Vancouver in 2010. But she finished fourth there, missing a medal by a mere one-tenth of a second.

After that result, she decided to retire and gave birth to her second child in 2011. A year later, she suffered a miscarriage, and the event caused her to rethink her decision to leave the sport.

With her husband and two children at nearly every race for support, Pikus-Pace came back for the 2012-13 World Cup season.

MORE: Pikus-Pace rides positivity to dream ending

Still, after enduring through so much, there was something that hadn’t been accomplished – until today.

“It was worth the wait,” Pikus-Pace said in a team release. “It was worth every minute of it. Honestly, getting hit by the bobsled, people said, oh man, that’s horrible. Getting fourth at the Olympics, they said ah, too bad. Then I had the miscarriage at 18 weeks, and many tears were shed.

“But if I hadn’t gone through every single one of those things, I could not be here today. And this is right where I want to be, and to have my family here, the love and support, it’s just beyond words. Just beyond words.”

source: AP
Noelle Pikus-Pace’s brother Jared (left), son Traycen (center), daughter Lacee (lower right) and husband Janson (right) celebrate with the new Olympic silver medalist in women’s skeleton after today’s race. Photo: AP.

Valencia Marathon produces historic times in men’s, women’s races

2022 Valencia Marathon
Getty
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Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum and Ethiopian Amane Beriso won the Valencia Marathon and became the third-fastest man and woman in history, respectively.

Kiptum, a 23-year-old in his marathon debut, won the men’s race in 2 hours, 1 minute, 53 seconds. The only men to ever run faster over 26.2 miles are legends: Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:09 world record, plus a 2:01:39) and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (2:01:41).

Kipchoge made his marathon debut at age 28, and Bekele at 31.

Beriso, a 31-year-old whose personal best was 2:20:48 from January 2016, stunned the women’s field Sunday by running 2:14:58. The only women to have run faster: Kenyans Brigid Kosgei (2:14:04) and Ruth Chepngetich (2:14:18).

Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey finished second in 2:16:49, the fastest-ever time for a woman in her marathon debut. Gidey is the world record holder at 5000m and 10,000m.

Valencia is arguably the top annual marathon outside of the six World Marathon Majors. The next major marathon is Tokyo on March 5.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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